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Transport Minister Steven Joyce was left red-faced last night after trotting out new figures supporting the Government's position on drink-driving - then admitted they made little sense.

Joyce sent statisticians back to work last night to find out who was killing people on our roads.

The data was presented during an interview on the Herald on Sunday's Two Drinks Max campaign, which encourages people not to drive after having more than two alcoholic drinks.

Joyce presented Ministry of Transport figures which show repeat drink-drivers were responsible for 90 per cent of fatal crashes involving alcohol.

But it was in sharp contrast to research presented in March which showed 67 per cent of drivers in 2005-2007 involved in alcohol-related fatal crashes had no previous drink-driving offences.

Joyce said the contrast between the two figures was extreme. He initially explained that the data was from different years, then said: "It looks surprising to me. What I'm going to do is to get them to go back and query the 2005-2007 stats."

A spokeswoman from his office said last night officials were still studying data.

Joyce conceded that cutting the drink-drive limit would have a "positive impact" on lives - but that nothing should be done until it was known how many lives would be saved.

He said the Two Drinks Max campaign encouraged "responsible behaviour" but he would not sign up because it would not look "impartial".